After an absence of almost 20 years, game shows return to prime-time with these two half hours, the first a souped-up version of the most enjoyable game show ever, the second an ingenious failure. What makes ABC’s version of Jeopardy! ”super”? Bigger prize money ($250,000 instead of $100,000) and the fact that four players, not the usual three, are vying for the prize. Other than that, all is as usual on Super Jeopardy!: Alex Trebek remains the most perfect deadpan performer on TV, and contestants still have to give their answers in the form of a question (”What is the War of 1812, Alex?” ”You’re right!”).

The show is funnier than most sitcoms, brainier than any knotty drama. And when you add the strong personalities of many of the contestants, you’ve got the Twin Peaks of game shows.

As for Monopoly — well, producer Merv Griffin certainly did his best. The Monopoly set is a huge reproduction of the famous Parker Bros. board game. Super-slinky ”hostess” Kathy Davis rolls the dice, and three contestants take their chances, landing on familiar pieces of real estate — Baltic Avenue, Park Place, etc.

But to acquire each piece of property, players must answer questions that have nothing to do with the game (”Command for Kate?” Answer: ”Kiss me”). And after a short while, it’s difficult to keep track of how much property each player owns. Add to that the complicated TV rules that are applied to game-board squares like Community Chest, Free Parking, and the railroad spaces, and you’ve got a real headache.

Host Michael Reilly — an ordinary guy plucked out of a crowd of contestants by Merv during the shooting of the pilot — is terrific, a relaxed natural. The show, however, isn’t. Super Jeopardy!: A
Monopoly: C-


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